One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

November 14, 2006

For Tuesday of the Thirty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 17:7-10

Today our Lord says no matter how hard or long we’ve worked at doing all he has commanded, we are to take no credit.
Instead, he tells us to say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”
We are not to take credit.
Furthermore, elsewhere in his Gospel the Lord tells us we are not to let the people around us see that we deserve credit.
The Lord says:
When you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your alms may be in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you pray…
pray to your Father who is in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you fast
[let not your fasting] be seen by men
but by your Father who is in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We are not to take credit for doing what God commands.
We are not to contrive to have other persons give us credit.
This is all because none of us knows the full extent of either goodness or evil.
Only God knows.
Only God can measure what is really in us.
Only God can really measure what we are and what we do.
Our judgment is always partial and liable to be mistaken.
From beginning to end, only God’s credit and judgment matter.
In his parable of the last judgment, the Lord separates his blessed sheep from the accursed goats.
Yet, neither the righteous sheep nor the negligent goats know what they have done or failed to do.
The sheep don’t know that they have truly served the Lord.
The goats don’t know that they have neglected the Lord.
It is a disturbing parable.
In it the Lord welcomes the sheep into his Father’s kingdom because they have served him— though entirely ignorant of it.
Then he sends the goats, as he says, “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” because they have neglected to serve the Lord even though they are only as ignorant as the sheep.
For their ignorance and their neglect, the goats shall have hell to pay.
Today in his Gospel our Lord tells us to say in the end, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”
Yet he tells us the sheep at the last judgment won’t even know that they did their duty.
Only God can measure, even while he commands us to measure up.
The Lord gives us the duty to fulfill his commands now without our ever knowing the full measure either of obedience or neglect.
Where are we to find this master whom we serve?
He tells us himself that for us men and for our salvation he has come down from heaven.
He IS the hungry one.
He IS the thirsty one.
He IS the stranger.
He IS the naked one.
He IS sick.
He IS in prison.
He IS our co-worker, our neighbor, and our relative.
In the midst of the stern accreditation of God who tells us today to call ourselves unworthy servants, there is a sign of hope from God himself.
He knows we are hungry, too, and that we thirst.
He knows we are estranged, naked, sick and imprisoned.
Sin has brought this all upon us.
It is the Lord, hidden from sight, who comes in the Eucharistic food and drink of his body and blood to save us from hell’s everlasting famine and thirst.
Of his own self he makes for us a homeland.
He clothes us with his own divine dignity, and opens for us the credit house of all his own goodness.
To us in the sickness of sin and the prison of death, he brings his holiness and immortality.
He gives us himself.
That is all that really that matters from beginning to end.
So let us keep his commands and serve him in all things great and little, for since he is the Lord of all, all of it matters to him whether we know it or not.

That God Be Glorified in All


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